These photographs of sites where serial killers dumped their victims are haunted with the final experiences of the victims that were brutally disposed of. They also tap into our society’s fascination with what murder looks like. I learn of the locations by reading the public records of closed serial killer cases and through looking at investigative photographs gleaned from Freedom of Information Act requests. Utilizing GPS coordinates and mapping software; I determine the exact spot where the bodies were found. Obscured by the passage of time and often invoking the natural beauty surrounding them—wilderness areas being ideal dumping places—these pictures challenge photography’s ability to expose the spectral history of a location and the knowledge of its viewers.
With the knowledge that the victim is often overshadowed by the drama of the killer’s story, I would like to refocus respect and attention on the victim and their family. In typical media accounts, the victim is a defeated soul, a loser in a contest of strength. In this series, the viewer is only provided the names and ages of the victims who become the protagonists. Like photographs themselves, these few words give us the impression that we know more than we do.
These images address the nature of experience, the human capacity to commit evil, and society’s fascination with death as a spectacle by delivering deliberate visual dead ends that lure the viewers’ gaze without delivering knowledge, information, or meaning. As a latecomer who has visited these sites, months or years after the event and the associated media coverage, one is immediately struck by the absence of spectacle, the beauty of the sites and their silence and stillness. It is my hope that these images will act as the overdue and deserved memorial for the victims and their families. And in a larger sense, cause us to appreciate and question photographic evidence of our capability for both evil and fascination with evil. These images are intended to fill the black hole in memory left by the loss of the victims.